News

NBDA Sends Letter to Arkansas Governor’s Office Over Unqualified Interpreter

National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc. sends a letter to the State of Arkansas Governor's Office with carbon copy to the Arkansas State elected and appointed officials in response to the matter of hiring and using a non-qualified sign language interpreter at the Arkansas Rehabilitation Services on behalf of the deaf community and in supporting the professional interpreting community in the state of Arkansas. 

External News Links:

Channel 7 KATV News (www.katv.com)

Interviewed by the Channel 7 KATV news reporter, NBDA Board member Dr. Glenn Anderson said: "The deaf community is not very happy. It is an insult to both the deaf community and the professional interpreting community. We expected the agency to follow high standards in their hires of interpreters."

Contact Information:

Text Letter to State of Arkansas Governor's Office

August 27, 2012

Georgeanne Carpenter

State of Arkansas, Governor’s Office
State Capitol Room 250
Little Rock, AR 72201
georgeanne.carpenter@governor.arkansas.gov

Dear Ms. Carpenter,

National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc. (NBDA) is writing this letter in response to the matter of hiring a non-qualified individual for the sign language interpreter position at the Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS) on February 19, 2012. After reviewing relevant documents and public information, and monitoring the situation, NBDA expresses great concern on behalf of the deaf community in the state of Arkansas. That there have been flaws and violations in the hiring practice for the sign language interpreter position, a position better suited for qualified and certified sign language interpreters (which ultimately provide quality interpreting service) to the deaf and hard of hearing citizens in the state of Arkansas, is an issue that must be addressed and rectified.

The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID) is a national interpreting certification organization that ensures certified sign language interpreters are maintaining the standards of RID and National Association of the Deaf (NAD) practices and requirements of a professional sign language interpreter in terms of providing quality interpreting services to the Deaf and hard of hearing individuals across the country. RID and NAD collaboratively promote high standards of interpreting practice by upholding the integrity of NAD‐RID Code of Professional Conduct under the auspices of the RID Ethical Practices System. RID and NAD have set standard requirements for prospective and current sign language interpreters to earn and maintain certification through written and performance exams, education and professional development, and adherence to a professional code of conduct which promotes ethical behavior before a certificate can be awarded. The Arkansas Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (ARID) works cooperatively with the RID by ensuring that their professional interpreting community meets RID/NAD standards within the state of Arkansas.

The NBDA expresses its concerns about ARS’s decision to hire an individual in an interpreter position who did not possess either RID/NAD or QAST level credentials. Specifically, the hired individual did not hold any of the interpreter degree nor any interpreter credential, scored second lowest among nine applicants, and failed to translate a simple video in either of two types of sign language. Additionally, because ARS is as an administrator of the QAST screening, we believe ARS failed to follow the principle that individuals must have national or state level credentials in order to provide professional interpreting services. By not following this principle, ARS’s risks diminishing its capacity to provide quality rehabilitation services to Deaf and hard of hearing citizens of Arkansas in support of obtaining and advancing their employment and educational goals. In the event an interpreting service is not satisfied by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Arkansans as a result of using non-qualified and uncertified interpreter at ARS, your state could potentially face a violation of the civil rights of deaf clients of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services as well as a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990’s, as amended, in terms of the provisions of “qualified interpreter” and “effective communication.” Make no mistake; this is not a small matter. The interpreter, like all translators, can be placed in situations where they must use their skills and expertise in emergency life-or-death situations. The need for quality interpreters cannot be minimized by hiring an individual who can “get by”, this requires full adherence to federal and state laws. Black Deaf and Hard of Hearing Arkansans have a right to the best the state can offer in quality interpreting. When several highly qualified and certified interpreters are turned down the position so someone without these credentials are hired, we fail to see how the state of Arkansas is doing the best they can.

RID and ARID are well respected professional interpreting organizations nationally and on state-level respectively. Federal agencies, professional organizations, state agencies, businesses, national and local conferences, and deaf and hard of hearing communities across the country rely on RID and state-level RID organizations as the most preferred interpreting resources and services. RID and ARID are a great resource the State of Arkansas and Arkansas Rehabilitation Services can consult in terms of hiring decisions to ensure the applicants are qualified to employ as sign language interpreters for the State of Arkansas. The only hindsight was that they were not consulted with respect to ensuring candidates are qualified to apply the position of sign language interpreter at Arkansas Rehabilitation Services.  

NBDA respectfully asks you to re-evaluate and reconsider the hiring practice of the sign language interpreter position at Arkansas Rehabilitation Services and hire the qualified candidate who possesses sign language interpreter credentials in the best interest of both professional interpreting community and deaf community in the state of Arkansas.

Should you have any questions or need further assistance in this matter through collaborating organizations like RID, please feel free to contact NBDA President at either president@nbda.org or 312-957-4841 (V/VP). Thanks.   

Respectfully submitted,

Benro Ogunyipe
NBDA President

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Founded in 1982, National Black Deaf Advocates is the nation's only advocacy organization catered to thousands of Black Deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. Its members throughout the United States and the world make up the premier advocates for civil rights of Black Deaf Americans in their communities, using shared resources to support the improvement of services for the Deaf, and advocating for the consistency of justice among all peoples.

 CC:

 

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc.
Matthew O’Hara, Acting Executive Director
Brenda Prudhom, President
333 Commerce Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

National Association of the Deaf
Howard Rosenblum, C.E.O
Chris Wagner, President
8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820
Silver Spring, MD 20910

National Alliance of Black Interpreters, Inc.
Antonio Goodwin, President
P.O. Box 77372
Washington, D.C. 20013

Arkansas Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
Nikki Cherry, President
P.O. Box 46511
Little Rock, AR 72214

Kim Hammer, Representative
Arkansas House of Representatives
1411 Edgehill
Benton, AR 72015

Bryan King, Representative
Arkansas House of Representatives
871 County Road 814
Green Forest, AR

Robert Trevino, Rehabilitation Commissioner
Arkansas Rehabilitation Services
Three Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201

Bill Walker, Director
Arkansas Department of Career Education
Three Capitol Mall
Little Rock, AR 72201

Kay Barnhill Terry, State Personnel Administrator
Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration
1509 West 7th Street
Little Rock, AR 72201

 

 

Posted in: NBDA in the Press

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